Persian chicken

Persian chicken

The Frugal Cook
Mike Cooper

This terrific one-pot dish was inspired by one of my favourite cookery books, Persia in Peckham by Sally Butcher (Prospect Books). The original contained lamb and beans but when I realised I was cooking almost nothing but lamb for this book I decided to adapt it to chicken. And made a few other changes, as you do. What you can't do without are the dried limes (available from middle-eastern grocers or by mail order from Sally's shop Persepolis) and ridiculously large amounts of herbs (so no use buying them in a supermarket). This makes a great meal for sophisticates who have been everywhere and eaten everything. The tangy lemon and herb flavours are really quite unique. And incredibly addictive.


Quantity Ingredient
8 chicken thighs, ideally still on the bone
1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
3 large garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
4-6 dried limes, washed and pierced in several places with a skewer or sharp knife
1 litre cold chicken stock, either homemade or made with an organic stock cube
1-1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
8 waxy small to medium-sized potatoes, quartered or cut into eight
2 tablespoons oil
A large bunch chives or spring onion tops, finely sliced
a bunch spinach
a good-sized bunch each of parsley and coriander
yoghurt, to serve
finely sliced onion, to serve
hot pepper sauce, to serve


  1. Remove the skin from the chicken thighs and put them in a large casserole or saute pan. Add the onion, garlic and dried limes, cover with stock and sprinkle over a good teaspoon of turmeric. Bring slowly to the boil then turn the heat down and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the potatoes and continue to cook until tender. Meanwhile, wash the herbs and spinach thoroughly, removing the tougher stalks and chop roughly. Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onion and herbs and spinach and fry them quickly until they wilt. Tip them into the stew, stir, put the lid back on and cook for another 10-15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Traditionally, this type of dish would be served with boiled basmati rice but you could serve it with couscous. Good accompaniments are plain yoghurt, very finely sliced onion and hot chilli sauce.


  • You could add some cauliflower florets or runner beans to the stew instead of - or as well as - the potatoes or add a drained can of chickpeas.


  • Remove the meat from any remaining chicken pieces, chop up and return to the pan. Serve as a soup, adding a little more stock and some more fresh herbs.

Thirfty tip

  • Go to a middle-eastern or Asian grocer to buy your herbs and greens. Far cheaper than your local supermarket.
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